Humanities fellows bring range of perspectives

From the Tony Award-winning playwright Alan Bennett to the New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast to traditional Japanese flute grand master Riley Lee, the distinguished fellows brought to campus this year by the Council of the Humanities will represent a wide range of fields and interests.

The Humanities Council, which was founded in 1953 to foster teaching, research and intellectual exchange, will bring 29 writers, artists and scholars to Princeton during 2008-09. Fifteen of the visitors will spend a semester or more at the University, while the others will come for intensive shorter periods of lectures, seminars and colloquia.

The public is invited to talks by these visitors, which are announced in the Humanities Council’s calendar at and in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

Long-term visiting fellows

These fellows generally spend a semester at Princeton teaching courses.

Rey Chow, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Brown University, works at the intersection of modern literature, film, cultural criticism, feminist theory, and postcolonial and ethnic studies. Her book “Primitive Passions” is a foundational text on visuality and contemporary Asian cinema. As the Class of 1932 Fellow in English this fall, Chow is teaching “The Problem of Mimesis in Modern Literary and Cultural Theory.”

Rita Copeland, a professor of classical studies and English at the University of Pennsylvania, will be an Old Dominion Fellow in English in the spring, teaching a course on the medieval period. Co-editor of “New Medieval Literature,” she has explored the relation between the study of language and philosophy in medieval universities and the development of dissent and heresy outside the university.

Riley Lee, an artist, ethnomusicologist and teacher of Japanese culture, will be the Class of 1932 Fellow in Comparative Literature this spring. The first non-Japanese to attain the rank of grand master in the traditional Japanese flute, or shakuhachi, Lee will team-teach a course in the spring on the cultural history of Japanese music.

Leonid Maximenkov, a scholar of Russian politics, culture and economics, is the author of an award-winning book on Soviet censorship and is working on a two-volume study of Soviet music history, using exclusive documents from state archives. He is in residence all year as the Class of 1932 Fellow in Slavic Languages and Literatures and is teaching courses on archival research and art and censorship.

Giuseppe Mazzotta, the Sterling Professor of Humanities for Italian at Yale University, is a leading Dante specialist whose scholarship extends to other Italian writers as well as to philosophy, cultural history and ideas of authorship. An Old Dominion Fellow in French and Italian, he will teach a spring-term course on Renaissance Italian writers and thinkers.

Short-term visiting fellows

During intensive two- or three-day periods, these fellows lecture and participate in classes, colloquia and informal discussions. Three are designated Whitney J. Oates Fellows* in honor of the distinguished classicist and founder of the Humanities Council.

Darol Anger, a fiddler, composer and improviser, explores new styles and techniques for the fiddle. Co-founder of the Turtle Island String Quartet, he will lead a hands-on workshop and perform a concert as a guest of the music department in the spring.

*Michael Fried, the eminent art historian at Johns Hopkins University, will be hosted by the comparative literature department in December. Fried is the author of “Absorption and Theatricality: Painting and Beholder in the Age of Diderot” and is also a poet and photography critic.

Douglas Hofstadter holds twin appointments in computer science and comparative literature at Indiana University. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Gödel, Escher, Bach” and will be a guest of the comparative literature department in October.

Robin D.G. Kelley, a historian of modern African American culture and, most recently, the biographer of Thelonious Monk, will be a guest of the Center for African American Studies in March. Kelley teaches at the University of Southern California.

Catherine Kintzler is a philosopher whose work is rooted in 17th- and 18th-century France but extends to contemporary issues. She will be a guest of the French and Italian department in November.

Julia Kristeva, the distinguished literary theorist, is also a novelist and psychoanalyst. A professor at the University of Paris VII, her work focuses on semiotics, psychoanalytic theory and literary figures from Colette to Proust. The Spanish and Portuguese department will host her visit in November.

*Louis Menand, a critic and cultural historian, is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a professor of English at Harvard University. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Metaphysical Club,” he will be a guest of the English department in November.

David Morgan, a professor of religion at Duke University, is known for his work in connecting American religious history and art history. He will be a guest of the religion department in April.

Eleanore Stump is a scholar of medieval philosophy at St. Louis University and the author of “Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering.” She will be a guest of the philosophy department in April.

Rosemarie Trockel is an artist who explores the central preoccupations of modernism through drawing, sculpture, video and her distinctive “wool pictures.” The German department will host her visit in November.

George Wilson, a scholar of film aesthetics from the University of Southern California, will deliver a series of lectures on film narrative in April as a guest of the philosophy department.

*T.P. Wiseman, a social historian of the late Roman Republic, will present discussions about political philosophy in the time of Cicero as a guest of the classics department in October.

Visiting professors of journalism

Each year eminent journalists teach at Princeton, joining a roster that includes many of America’s most distinguished writers.

Thanassis Cambanis has reported on the Arab world for The New York Times and The Boston Globe, and is writing a book on Shi’ite sectarianism in Iraq and Lebanon. As a Ferris Professor in the spring, he will teach a course on writing about war.

Barton Gellman, a member of Princeton’s class of 1982, shared Pulitzer Prizes for national reporting in 2002 and 2008. A special projects reporter for The Washington Post, he also has been diplomatic correspondent and Jerusalem bureau chief. As a Ferris Professor in the spring, he will teach “Investigative Journalism.”

Jim Kelly, a 1976 alumnus, is the managing editor of Time Inc. and was the managing editor of Time magazine from 2001 to 2006. He is a Ferris Professor this fall, teaching the craft of the profile.

Kathy Kiely, a 1977 graduate, is a Washington correspondent for USA Today, covering the presidential election. As a Ferris Professor in the spring, she will teach “Journalism on the Screen.”

Peter Maass, a contributing writer to The New York Times, has been a correspondent for the Times and The Washington Post in Brussels, Seoul, Budapest and Washington, D.C. He is the author of “Bosnian War, Love Thy Neighbor.” As a Ferris Professor this fall, he is teaching “The Journalism of Energy and Global Warming.”

John McPhee, a member of the class of 1953, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The New Yorker and the author of 27 books. He has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton since 1974, teaching two semesters every three years. In 2008, he received a George Polk Career Award for his “indelible mark on American journalism during his nearly half-century career.” He will teach “Creative Nonfiction” in the spring.

Claudia Roth Pierpont is a staff writer for The New Yorker. She is the author of “Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World” and will be a Robbins/Ferris Professor in the spring, leading a class on writing about culture.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, a physician, has reported on AIDS in China and SARS, as well as the 2004 presidential election, for The New York Times. As a Ferris Professor in the spring, she will show how science stories can affect politics and the world economy.

Alex Ross, a music critic for The New Yorker, is the author of “The Rest Is Noise,” winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Award for criticism, and a 2008 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.” As a McGraw Professor this fall, he is teaching a class on writing about the arts.

Evan Thomas, Newsweek’s editor-at-large and former Washington bureau chief, last year began a five-year term as the Ferris Professor in Residence. He has written six books and more than 100 cover stories on national and international news. This fall, he is teaching “The Media in America.”

The Belknap Visitors in the Humanities

Named in honor of 1912 alumnus Chauncey Belknap, this program sponsors visitors for one or two days.

Roz Chast, a staff cartoonist at The New Yorker, will be the Belknap Visitor in the Humanities on March 5, when she will give an illustrated talk about her work. Since her first New Yorker cartoon in 1978, Chast has contributed more than 1,000 cartoons to the magazine, and her work also has been published in many other magazines. Her most recent book is “Theories of Everything: Selected, Collected and Health-Inspected Cartoons, 1978-2006.”

Alan Bennett, the British playwright and essayist, will be the Belknap Visitor in the Humanities on Feb. 18, when he will give a public reading. Bennett began his writing and acting career with “Beyond the Fringe” in 1959 and soon started to work in television, radio and film. In 2006, his play “The History Boys” won a Tony Award, and it recently was released as a film. In 1994, he adapted another of his plays for the screen — “The Madness of King George” — which received four Academy Award nominations, winning for art direction.